Macy Gray says she's taking her push to revamp the American flag "really seriously" and is working on launching a petition to unite supporters behind giving Old Glory a new look.
"We're writing a letter starting with a few congressmen who we think might support us," Gray told ITK in a Tuesday interview.
The "I Try" singer ignited a media firestorm earlier this month after penning an op-ed in honor of Juneteenth in which she called for "a new flag" for the United States.
After it was seen being held by rioters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, Gray said the American flag appeared "tattered, dated, divisive, and incorrect."
"It no longer represents democracy and freedom. It no longer represents ALL of us. It’s not fair to be forced to honor it," she wrote, suggesting a new design should incorporate two additional stars to represent Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., and different colors to show "your skin tone and mine — like the melanin scale."
"At the end of the day, all I did was make a suggestion," Gray said Tuesday when asked about the backlash.
"I'm not saying get rid of the American flag, I'm saying here's an idea for the next flag," added Gray, 53, noting that it has been updated periodically over the years.
"There's a star there that's my skin and there's a star up there that's the color of your skin, and the message is that our country has finally embraced all of us," the Grammy Award winner said.
Critics decried Gray's editorial as "anti-American" and divisive. Republican Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertGOP governor says McCarthy should condemn Boebert's anti-Muslim remarks GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Boebert apologizes to Muslims as Democrats call for 'real action to confront racism' MORE (Colo.) weighed in on the piece, saying Gray was free to pack her bags.
If you don’t like the American flag, feel free to leave. https://t.co/i62saDBYaJ— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) June 19, 2021
There are 195 countries in the world.— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) June 19, 2021
194 of them don’t have the American flag.
If @MacyGraysLife or anyone else hates the American flag so badly, they should pick a flag they like & go live in the country that flies it! https://t.co/337AXRyTLS
"I never said I didn't like the flag," Gray told ITK of her reaction to her critics. "You might not like your TV, but that doesn't mean you don't like television. You just want a new one."
"I love my country — and I know everybody has to say that — but I actually do. That was never the issue as to whether or not I'd like to be here."
When asked about how she felt seeing hammer-thrower Gwen Berry turn away from the American flag over the weekend during the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, Gray reiterated her support for giving the Stars and Stripes a makeover.
"Present something that everybody can embrace and something that they don't have a reason to turn their back on. Like if you see yourself in the stars, you look crazy turning your back on it because you're included," Gray said.
"I think a lot of people don't feel that this country as a system has been on their side."
Gray — who performed at a campaign concert for then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant Restless progressives eye 2024 Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony MORE during the 2020 White House race — said neither former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE nor the current commander in chief has shared the message of unity she hopes an updated flag would convey.
"I think some people think that there's a lot of people who don't belong here, based on how they look, and if it's in the flag and there's a flag says: No, you're wrong. If you are an American citizen, you are an American citizen, regardless of what you look like."
"Save [Trump and Biden] the trouble and just put it in our flag and make the meaning of it clear — like the meaning of the flag shouldn't be ambiguous, it shouldn't be scary to one person."
The Ohio-born performer said she's working on a petition to build support for her flag idea among the public, particularly among young people.
"It's cool if you go after politicians, but it's really about us. And I'm so over like politicians making everything about them," Gray said, when asked who she would direct the petition toward.
"I know that the minute I present it to a politician, you know what his or her first thought is going to be: 'Will this get me elected? If I say yes to this, will people not want to vote for me?'"
"That's all they're going to care about. But I think people are interested in change, and I think that change is exciting."
While she won't incorporate the flag controversy into her music because politics is "the last thing" audience members want to hear about at a concert, Gray said she's not backing down from political battles.
"That's my next fight — and I know this is one I'll never win — but party, what's more divisive than [political] party?"
"Just to put all Americans on teams and make them go after each other like one's a Democrat, and one's a Republican. Ninety percent of people don't even know what that means," Gray exclaimed.
"It's this competition where we're pitted against each other from the get-go," she said. "But I do believe in my idea for a new flag, absolutely."